HANCOCK COUNTY — Schools across central Indiana are facing daily challenges while trying to keep students and staff members safe during the pandemic and keep their doors open for in person learning.
“We’re all tired. Our teachers are doing an amazing job and we just have to maintain all of our social distancing, wearing masks and washing hands as much as we possibly can, so we can mitigate any spread of this virus,” Dr. Jack Parker, the superintendent of Mt. Vernon Community Schools, said.
According to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard, there have been a total of 10 cases at Mt. Vernon High School and five cases at Mt. Vernon Middle School this year. That’s about half of one percent of all students and staff members.
At the beginning the school year, Indianapolis based company, Hamilton Exhibits, donated a temporary quarantine room to Mt. Vernon Middle School.
“Health clinics are a busy place. You have kids coming in for a variety of needs and reasons," Ben Williams, the Mt. Vernon Middle School principal said. "So therefore, when we have a student who has COVID like symptoms or flu-like symptoms and they need to go home, we can isolate them."
The temporary quarantine room has space for two students to isolate. They are separated by walls on three sides and a curtain. It’s placed in a room connected to the school’s front office.
“I know everyone has their thoughts and opinions, but having a room that they are able to go in to address things if need be is very valuable,” Ashley Lusby said.
Lusby has two children in the district, including an eighth-grader at Mt. Vernon Middle School. Her biggest fear is going back into quarantine and her children going back to virtual learning.
“Encourage your students to wear their masks and do what is asked of them in the hallways," Lusby said. "Don’t try to break those rules, just keep up with what’s being asked of us as parents and as families in the community, so we can keep moving forward and not go backwards."
Hamilton Exhibits, the company that created the temporary quarantine room, is a marketing company that specializes in trade shows.
“Unfortunately, this pandemic has hit our industry hard,” Jason Weddle, the chief operating officer of Hamilton Exhibits, said. “We were first out and will probably be last back.”
Weddle says the intent behind creating the temporary quarantine rooms is to keep his people employed and help schools reopen safely.
“These are offered at cost," Weddle said. "Hamilton is not making any profit it’s just to simply keep our people employed and to do a good service and get businesses and schools let’s get this economy back up where it should be."
Long term, he says the rooms can be utilized in other spaces like for rural healthcare or even in the military. To learn more: click here.